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CONTENTS OF THIS CHAPTER
Definition and Terminology in Soils Application of Soils in Civil Engineering Origin and Composition of Soils Formation of Soil and Major Soil Types Basic Properties of Soil Determination of Specific Gravity of Soil Particles Determination of Porosity and Void Ratio
DEFINITIONS AND TERMS
‘Soil is a natural body comprised of solids (minerals and organic matter), liquid, and gases that occurs on the land surface, occupies space, and is characterised by one or both of the following: horizons, or layers, that are distinguishable from the initial material as a result of additions, losses, transfers, and transformations of energy and matter or the ability to support rooted plants in a natural environment.’ Agriculturalists’ point of view. (USDA, 2004)
‘Soil is considered as a naturally (mostly) occurring particulate material of variable composition having properties of compressibility, permeability and strength.’ Engineers’ point of view. (Whitlow, 2001) ‘Soil comprises of layers of loose unconsolidated material extending from the surface to solid rock, which have been formed by the weathering and disintegration of the rocks.’ Geologists’ point of view (Whitlow, 2001)
Soil mechanics is the branch of science that deals with the study of the physical properties of soil and the behaviour of soil masses subjected to various types of forces (Das, 1997).
Soil engineering is the application of the principles of soil mechanics to practical problems (Das, 1997). The publication of ‘erdbaumechanik’ by Karl Terzaghi (1925) ‘father of soil mechanics’ gave birth to modern soil mechanics which include fundamental principles of soil mechanics on which advance studies are made.
Geotechnical engineering is defined as the subdiscipline of civil engineering that involves natural materials found close to the surface of the earth with the inclusion of principles of soil mechanics and rock mechanics applications for the design of foundations, retaining structures and earth structures (Das, 1997).
Application of Soil Mechanics
Geotechnical engineering is a branch of civil engineering and is closely related to engineering geology which is a branch of geology. The discipline that relates geotechnical engineering principles with engineering geology principles is geotechnics. Some of the applications of geotechnics include: Shallow foundation of structures such as bridges, buildings, highways and road embankments. ii) Deep foundations of structures such as piled high rise buildings, structures on difficult ground conditions, tunnelling and excavation. iii)Ground improvement of difficult soil conditions such as geotextiles, stabilisation using chemicals, dewatering, vibrocompaction etc. iv)Retaining structures and slopes such as reinforced earth wall, retaining walls, cofferdams etc.
Geotechnics is a Discipline Related to Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
Water Resource Engineering Environmental Engineering Construction Engineering
Geomorphology Geotechnical Engineering Engineering Geology GEOLOGY Petrology Geophysics and Seismology
CIVIL ENGINEERING Surveying and Mapping Transportation Engineering Structural Engineering
Some Application of Soil Mechanics
Bridge Foundation Cofferdam Road Embankment Geotextiles
Tunnelling Grout Curtain Excavation Embankment Dam Shallow Foundation
Reinforced Earth Wall
ORIGIN AND COMPOSITION OF SOIL
Soils are formed by the disintegration (technically known as weathering) of rocks. The disintegrated or weathered materials are either found deposited at its original location or transported by weathering agents such as water, wind, ice, etc. before deposition. In the first case, the resultant soil is known as residual soil whereas the second case is known as transported soil. Three stages involved in the formation transported soil is described as: i) weathering ii) transportation iii) deposition of weathered materials
Weathering is the process of breaking down rocks by mechanical and chemical processes into small pieces. Weathering is divided into two distinct processes:
i) Mechanical Weathering Mechanical weathering may be caused by the expansion and contraction of rocks from continuous gain and loss of heat, which results in ultimate disintegration. Frequently, water seeps through the pores and existing cracks in rocks and as the temperature drops, the water freezes and expands causing the expansion of volume strong enough to break down larger rocks.
ii) Chemical Weathering The original rock minerals are transformed into new minerals by chemical reaction is known as chemical weathering. Water and carbon dioxides from the atmosphere form carbonic acid, which reacts with the existing rock minerals to form new minerals and soluble salt. Soluble salts present in the groundwater and organic acids formed from decayed organic matter also cause chemical weathering.
The product of soils formed from the weathering process at its origin is known to be residual soil. On the contrary, the transported soil can be classified into several groups, depending on the mode of transportation and deposition: i) Glacial soils - formed by transportation and deposition of glaciers. ii) Alluvial soils - transported by running water and deposited along streams. iii) Lacustrine soils - formed by deposition in quiet lakes. iv) Marine soils - formed by deposition in the seas. v) Aeolian soils - transposted and deposited by wind. vi) Colluvial soils - formed by movement of soil from its original place by gravity such as during landslides.
FORMATION OF SOIL AND SOIL PROFILE
Soil consists of: i) minerals and weathered rock fragments ii) organic matter iii) gases iv) water v) living organisms Regolith is minerals and weathered rock fragments Humus is decayed organic matter. There are five factors that influence soil formation: i) Climate ii) Parent rock iii) Organisms iv) Relief (slope, topography) v) Time
A soil profile consists of several soil horizons and they are numbered roughly alphabetically, beginning at the ground surface, going downwards: O horizon – This is the layer of humus on the ground surface. A horizon – Top soil. – Rich in organic matter and typically dark in color. – Also called zone of leaching. B horizon – Subsoil. – Also called zone of accumulation. – May contain soluble minerals such as calcite in arid climates (caliche). C horizon – Weathered bedrock or saprolite (rotten rock). – Bedrock lies below the soil profile.
MAJOR SOIL TYPES
i) Pedalfer – These soils are rich in Al and Fe. – They form in humid climates, such as the southeastern U.S. Pedocal – These soils are rich in Calcium Carbonate. – They form in arid climates, such as the southwestern U.S. – These soils commonly contain caliche (or hardpan), a calcium carbonate deposit which accumulates in the soil.
iii) Laterite – These soils have been depleted of nearly all elements except iron and aluminum oxides. – Laterites are derived from the weathering of basalt (mafic parent rock). – They form in tropical climates (hot and wet) with very high rainfall. – The high rainfall has caused leaching of most of the elements and nutrients from the soil. – This is the soil typical of a tropical rainforest. When used for agriculture, the small amount of nutrients is quickly depleted, and the soil dries to become as hard as a brick.
As a summary, soil can be classified into two major groups given as:
I) Coarse Soils Coarse soils are classified as having particle sizes > 0.06 mm such as SANDS and GRAVELS. The grains will either be rounded or angular and usually consist of fragments of rock or jasper with iron oxide, calcite and mica present. The relatively equidimensional shape is a function of the crystalline structure of the minerals including the degree of rounding depends upon the amount of wear that have taken place.
ii) Fine Soils Fine soils are finer than 0.06 mm and typically flaky in shape such as SILTS and CLAYS. Very fine oxides, sulphides and sometimes organic matter may be present. The most important engineering context of fine soils is the flakiness of the clay minerals which give rise to very large surface areas.
Organic matter originates from plant or animal remains and the end product, known as humus which is a complex mixture of organic compound. Featured in topsoil occurring in the upper layer of usually not more than 0.5 m thickness. Peat are predominantly fibrous organic material. Organic matter has undesirable properties which are highly compressible and absorb large amount of water that will change in load or moisture content producing considerable changes in volume.
Gas Air, water vapour Large majority of soils Water, dissolved Liquid consist of mixtures of salt inorganic mineral particles Rock fragments, together with some water Solid Mineral grains, and air and it is expedient Organic matter to consider a soil as three phase model composed of Three-Phase Diagram solid, liquid. Water is a fundamental part of natural soil and in fact has a great effect on engineering properties such as compressibility, seepage and permeability. Water has no shear strength but relatively incompressible, hence it transmits direct pressure therefore drainage conditions in a soil mass are of great significance when considering shear strength. Air is compressible and water vapour can freeze. Soil may be considered to be perfectly dry or fully saturated or in the condition somewhere between these two extremes. In dry soil, water vapour is present while in a fully saturated soil, 2 % of air voids may be present.
BASIC PROPERTIES OF SOIL
The soil mass is quantified into three constituent phase materials which are solid, liquid and gas. In a partially saturated state, the soil may consist of these phase as shown below, however, in a fully saturated state or fully dry state, the soil will behave as a two phase system. In a fully saturated state, water will fill in the void spaces in the soil mass whereas in fully dry state, the void spaces will be filled with air.
Ma =0 Mw M Ms Solid Vs Air Water
Va Vw Vv V
Definition of Mass-Volume
Water Content (W) and Degree of Saturation (Sr)
Moisture content is expressed as the ratio of mass of water to the mass of solid and is given in percentage of water content (%). The water content is given by:
w= Mass of water = Mass of solid Mw Ms
Degree of saturation is expressed as the quantity of water in the soil based on the fraction of the voids volume and is given in percentage of saturation (%). For a perfectly dry soil, Sr = 0 and for a fully saturated soil, Sr = 1. The degree of saturation is given by:
Sr = Volume of water Volume of voids = Vw Vv
Air Voids Volume
The volume of air voids is the part of voids volume not occupied by water. The volume of air voids is a percentage from the total volume of soil and is given as:
Va = Volume of Voids – Volume of Water = Vv - Vw
Void Ratio and Porosity
Void ratio is the volume which is not occupied by solids and it may be occupied by water or air or by a mixture of both. The void ratio is given by:
e= Volume of voids = Volume of solids Vv Vs = Vw + V v Vs
Density of Soil
Density is referred to as the mass of solids per unit volume of the soil which is the quantity of material related to the amount of space it occupies given as kg/m3. Several density relationship can be establish:
i) Dry Density
Mass of solid = Total volume
ii) Bulk Density
Total Mass Total volume
iii) Saturated Density Saturated density is the bulk density of the soil when it is fully saturated, Sr = 1. iv) Submerged Density Submerged density or effective density of a soil is the notional effective mass per unit total volume , when the soil is submerged. When a unit total volume of soil is is submerged in water, the net mass of a unit volume of soil is given by:
s t. a
Solid Particle Density and Specific Gravity
Solid particle density is defined as the ratio of the mass of solids to the volume of solids given as kg/m3. The expression is given by:
Mass of solid Ms = Volume of solid Vs
Specific gravity is the ratio of the mass of solids to the density of water expressed as:
Gs = Ms Vsρ
Relationships of Mass-Volume
Ma =0 Mw = wGsρ
Air Water Va = e(1 - sr) Vw = Sre = wGs V=1+e e
Ms = Gsρ
Vs = 1
Water content and degree of saturation are derived from previous equation given as:
w = Sre Gs wGs e
The porosity is derived based on the total volume and the volume of void in the soil expressed as:
n= e 1+e
Solid particle density derived from the above relationship is given by:
ρ s= Gsρ w
The air voids volume is expressed as:
Va = e(1 – Sr)
The air voids content is the ratio of the volume of air voids to the total volume given as:
Av = e – wGs 1+e
The dry density and bulk density are derived from the previous expression given as:
Gsρ w ρ s = 1+e 1+e
Gρ ρ b= s Sreρ w
The saturated density is derived from the bulk density when the soil is fully saturated given by:
ρ sat = Gsρ w + eρ w Gs + eρ = 1+e 1+e
Unit Weights of Soil
Dry unit weight, γ dry Bulk unit weight, γ b Saturated unit weight, Unit weight of water, Submerged unit weight,
= ρ dry g = ρ bg γ sat = ρ sat g γ w = ρ wg γ ' = γ sat – γ
The gravitational acceleration, g is taken as 9.81 m/s2. The unit for the given unit weights is kN/m3.
The actual void ratio of a soil lies somewhere between the possible minimum and maximum values depending on the state of compaction. In the case of sands and gravels, a good deal of variation is attainable between two extremes and the relationship between the void ratio values is termed as density index or relative density given by:
emx. – e a emx. – em . a in
From the definition of dry unit weight, the relationship can be expressed in terms of maximum and minimum possible dry unit weight given as:
RD = γ d(mx) a γ γ
d in (m )
d a) (mx
d in (m )
Relative Density (%) 0 – 15 15 – 50 50 – 70 70 – 85 85 – 100
Description of Compactness Very Loose Loose Medium Dense Very Dense
DETERMINATION OF SPECIFIC GRAVITY OF SOIL PARTICLES
Specific gravity of fine soils can be conducted using a 50 ml density bottle whereas for coarse soils, a 500 ml or 1000 ml container is used either an ordinary gas jar shown in Fig 4.1 or a special gas jar fitted with a conical screw top known as a pyknometer shown in Fig 4.2. The soil is first dried and placed into the jar and weighed. The jar is then filled with de-aired water and agitated to remove any air bubbles. Once it is carefully topping up with water, the jar is weighed again. Finally, the jar is emptied and filled with de-aired water and again weighed. The masses are indicated below to determine specific gravity of the soil given as: M1 = Mass of empty jar M2 = Mass of jar including dry soil M3 = Mass of jar, soil including water M4 = Mass of jar including water only
Mass of Soil M2 – M1 = Mass of Water Displaced by Soil (M4 – M1) – (M3 – M2)
Alternatively, another procedure can be adopted where the empty jar and the jar filled with water is weighed. A pre-weighed soil quantity is then poured into the jar and stirred. The water is carefully filled into the jar and weighed. The masses are indicated below to determine the specific gravity of the soil given as: M1 = Mass of empty jar Ms = Mass of soil M3 = Mass of jar, soil including water M4 = Mass of jar including water only
Gs = Ms M4 – M3 + Ms
Fig 4.1 Gas Jar
Fig 4.2 Pyknometer
DETERMINATION OF POROSITY AND VOID RATIO
Porosity and void ratio of a granular soil can be determined by filling a suitable mould or container with water and adding the soil to fill the mould. The volume occupied by the soil particles may be determined by comparing the masses of water in the mould with the mould filled with soil and water. The minimum void ratio can be determined using a standard compaction mould placed under water indicated as M1. The soil is then compacted into three layers of equal thickness with each thoroughly compacted using a vibrating hammer. The collar of the mould is then removed and the mass of mould including soil from its surface struck-off level and water is determined indicated as M2. V indicates the volume of mould used in the laboratory determination.
= M2 – M1 V
Assuming the soil is fully saturated, sr = 1,
s t(mx a a)
= Gs + em in 1 + em in
The porosity is given by:
em = Gsρ w in ρ sat(mx) a ρ sat(mx) - ρ w a nm = in em in 1 + em in
The maximum void ratio is determined by pouring the soil quickly into the mould placed under water. The collar is then removed and the weighed of the mould including soil at its struck off level with water is weighed. The expression is given by:
emx = Gsρ w - ρ sat(m ) a in ρ sat(m ) - ρ w in nmx = a emx a 1 + emx a